U.S. hardwood lumber exports totaled 136.8 million board feet in January 2014, surpassing the January record set in 2013 by 22%. Shipments were up 52% to China, 19% to Vietnam and 27% to the United Kingdom this January relative to last. Canada was the only Top 5 market to show a decline (-12%).

Hardwood Buyers Search for Savings, To No AvailMany exporters already had orders booked for much of the lumber that will come out of their kilns in April and even May, many with prices to be determined at time of shipment. One exporter said, “I’m spending more time saying ‘no’ than negotiating new business.”

Six times as many foreign buyers reported higher demand for North American hardwoods as reported lower demand in March. With supplies tight and prices still rising, however, many buyers were also searching for substitute species from other parts of the world. European lumber producers noted increased visits from Chinese buyers, for example. Some were able to find lower-cost replacements, but many more were not, as lumber supplies were tight the world over.

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